KOTA KINABALU: Sabah is fast emerging as a key tropical forest research centre, with three of the state’s key pristine conservation areas now attracting international scientists.
Chief Minister Datuk Musa Aman said he was glad that research originating from the Danum Valley dating some 20 years was now being replicated on a larger scale at Sabah’s Lost World of the Maliau Basin.
“Research efforts are now beginning in the Imbak Canyon in the southern region. This speaks volumes of the benefits of our efforts to maintain the sanctity of our conservation areas,” he said.
He noted that about 50 Malaysians, most of them Sabahans, had gained their post graduate degrees based on work done in Danum.
Musa said this after witnessing the signing of a memorandum of understanding between The Royal Society of Britain and the Danum Valley Management Committee (DVMC) for a five-year continuation of a rainforest research and training programme that began in 1985.
He noted that about half of the 330 studies carried out at the 43,800ha Danum Valley – nearly twice the size of Penang island – was carried out through collaboration between the Royal Society and DVMC.
Through this collaboration, the Danum field centre is now regarded as a leading rainforest establishment in South-East Asia.
Globally, it is one of three top facilities of its kind, the others being La Selva in Costa Rica and Panama, Musa said.
He credited this success to the Sabah Forestry Department, Yayasan Sabah, Universiti Malaysia Sabah and the state Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry.
The Royal Society’s foreign secretary and vice-president Prof Lorna Casselton said the 25-year research efforts at Danum Valley had gone beyond understanding the effects of timber harvesting and forest recovery after disturbance by logging.
She said the research work now encompassed how a changing climate and landscape – particularly agriculture development – were likely to affect rainforests.
Casselton said the research conducted at Danum so far had looked into things like atmospheric chemistry, forest restoration and carbon sequestration.
Other research efforts included the role of logged forests and forests within agriculture plantations in supporting biodiversity and ecosystem functioning, and the changing climate of South East Asia and its likely impact on forest systems